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Prestonpans and Vicinity

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Sailors' Society are gone over annually by the parish minister
of the day, and initialed by him.

There were also the Hammermen's Benefit Society and the Potters' Benefit Society, neither of which were so ancient as the Sailors; but both are long since gone for ever.

The Carters' Benefit Society was instituted as early as 1829, and it has seen many ups and downs in its day. The time was when a great array of beautifully caparisoned horses was wont to be turned out in procession on the annual fair day; but now, few of the carters will be at the trouble to dress their horses for the occasion. Their secretary at the present time is Mr David Fraser; treasurer and boxmaster, Mr Peter Dudgeon; first and second key-keepers, Messrs George Cunningham, jun., and William Rodger respectively; and Mr George Rodger, officer. The sick directors are—Eastern District, Mr Andrew Thomson; Middle District, Mr William Thomson; and Western District, Mr George Edmond. Prestonpans Fair, or Carters' Play rather, took its name from the Carters' Society, and is always held on the third Wednesday of June. At one time there were over one hundred members on the roll. The number has been considerably reduced of late, but the society continues in a flourishing condition.

The Caledonian Branch of Free Gardeners was instituted here at an early period. The committee of management at the present time consists of the following five members— Secretary, Mr Matthew Brown; Treasurer, Mr John Thomson; R. W. M., Mr Alexander Thomson; and Mr James Baxter, officer. The membership at the present time amounts to eighty, and the annual procession is always on the second Saturday of July.

This annual fete, like many other sports of a similar
nature, has risen from very small estate, until it has assumed
not only very large proportions, but until it has actually

become a " red letter day " in the district. The following is how it originated: —
"In 1874, " said one of our informants, "though it had been previously mentioned, something very like, not ' spontaneous combustion, ' but a spontaneity of opinion, a desire for diversion, burst out among quite a number of boat owners along the shore, and ' yes, ' they said, ' we must have a race of our own, ' and that settled the matter; a beginning was made. "
On this occasion two handsome prizes were given—one a magnificent gold breast-pin, by Mr Robertson, jeweller, Edinburgh; and the other a very handsome picture in frame, by Mr Hepburn, carver and gilder, Edinburgh. The entry money for events made up a good many prizes on a small scale, and the affair was fixed for August 2gth 1874. The first sailing match was won by the boat " Undine, " Henry Fraser, skipper, the owner; the second being the boat " Morning Star, " David Dobson, owner. Owing to want of wind the sports extended over two days, when quite a number( of boys' races were sailed too.
On the second year things were gone about in a thoroughly business-like fashion, a committee appointed, contributions sought, and quite a series of sailing and rowing races, illuminations on sea and shore, and various other sports arranged for. Mr Ford, Beach House, who had taken a very active interest in the affair, was appointed commodore. The sports were kept up for about ten seasons, and unexpectedly ceased.
After a good many years cessation a resumption of the sports took place. On this occasion, among others, Messrs R. White, David Adams, the Messrs Belfield, Robert Clark, and George Hunter came strongly to the front, and these annual sports have contnued to go with great birr ever since. The month of August, when the sea-side holiday-seekers are expected to be most numerous in the village, is the time chosen for the fete. The last commodore was Mr George Moncur, Preston Lodge.
The sailing committee consists of Messrs Thomas Rennie, Henry Fraser, John Meldrum, James M'Lennan, D. Thomson, R. W. Ritchie, P. Milligan, Alexander Black, John B. Bower, Rev. H. C. Cargill, Joseph Wilson, William Leckie, Andrew Cunningham, George Thomson, and William M'Neill; with Robert Clark, treasurer, and George Hunter, secretary. Last season there were over twenty items on the programme and a heavy prize list.
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